WEB DESK: Pakistan has started the regular import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for next 15 years from Qatar under the $16 billion government-to-government (G2G) agreement. Tuesday saw the safe berthing of AL Gattara, the long-awaited Q-Flex LNG vessel of Qatargas carrying about 140,000 cubic meters (cbm) or 67,200 metric tonnes (MT) of cargo, here at Port Qasim.
“This is the 21st LNG ship we safely handled today,” PQA chairman Agha Jan Akhtar said. According to Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the energy-scarce country would this year import about 2.85 million tonnes of LNG in 40 big and small shipments to cater increasing demand for the “most efficient power generation” fuel.
Last year during March 27-November 30, the government, through Pakistan State Oil, had imported around 0.9 million tons of LNG in 16 vessels. The future imports formula, the federal minister said, would be “four ships a month”: three from Qatargas and one from Gunvor on spot buying basis. “Gunvor is one cargo per month for five years… (at) 13.37 percent (of three months average price of Brent),” Abbasi told Business Recorder on telephone.
At $35 Brent, the 15-year G2G contract with Qatargas, the minister clarified, was worth about $16 billion. The “largest” LNG ship, having 10.8-meter draught, 106898 dead-weight tonnage (dwt) and 320-meter length overall (LOA), was docked at Engro’s Elengy Terminal in the morning and has been hooked up with the Floating Storage and Re-gasification Unit (FSRU) for re-gasification of the liquefied commodity.
“Q-Flex has docked and started offloading LNG,” the Minister said. Chairman Port Qasim Authority (PQA) Akhtar said the LNG vessel, having 220,000cbm load capacity, was handled in a “controlled environment” at the country’s second largest seaport. “From March 1st onward, we would be importing 40 more consignments this year,” he said. The size of Qatargas vessels, the chairman said, would keep changing according to the sea environment. Under the agreement, he said, Q-Flex ships would not be coming to Port Qasim during monsoon season which, ranging between April and July, marks a rough sea.
Tuesday’s successful handling of AL Gattara, he recalled, came after PQA pilots’ participation in a simulation exercise conducted about three months ago by Qatargas in Spain. About talks of PQA not ready to accommodate the deeper-draught big LNG vessels, the port operator said a Q-Flex LOA ranged from 315 to 320 meters and for the last one year “we have been handling at Port Qasim vessels of 337 LOA”.
Monday a spokesman for Engro’s Elengy Pakistan Terminal Limited said: “The LNG ship from Qatar “Q-Flex” is the largest LNG ship to dock at Elengy Terminal and one of the largest ships to arrive at Port Qasim.” Akhtar hoped that Qatargas would be sending bigger Q-Flex ships in March next year when the second LNG terminal would be ready and PQA would have further deepened its navigational channel.